February 26, 2010
This week there was a ton of action on Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s proposal to derail the EPA’s December decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a letter to Democratic California Senator Dianne Feinstein that said the Murkowski resolution would complicate efforts to impose stricter fuel economy standards on cars and light trucks and damage the auto industry. California state officials publicly supported the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases.
And even as the EPA announced deadlines on its greenhouse gas regulations Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada urged Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry to quickly write comprehensive climate and energy legislation to give the measure a chance of reaching the floor this year.
This week climate action and clean energy advocates also gathered in meetings big and small to understand anew the powerful and well-financed fossil fuel political infrastructure that in recent months has tilted action on climate legislation the wrong way.
By and large most of the meetings produced a consensus conclusion and an action step.
The conclusion: A powerful case has been built about the consequences of burning fossil fuels that is emphatically supported by science. The world is warming and failing to act is producing an economic calamity in the U.S. and an environmental calamity worldwide.
The action step: Focus on the urgency of climate change and the job, environmental, and security opportunities that legislative action produces. Relentlessly communicate our case to citizens, lawmakers, the media, and the opposition.
In essence, we need to step up our game. As the 40th Earth Day approaches it’s useful to recall that the environmental community, largely through its own research, content, and storytelling pushed the nation to respond to the threat of toxic chemicals, habitat loss, air and water pollution, ocean degradation, and species extinctions. We did the same thing in describing the myriad consequences of a steadily warming planet.
Our capacity to produce new data, break new stories, and tell the world about the danger of climate change is strong. Moreover, we have at our disposal in the online space digital tools to connect and inspire millions of people to act. The challenge right now for the climate action community is to use our formidable communications capacity more effectively.
USCAN is collaborating with colleagues to do just that. USCAN’s Online Manager, Rhys Gerholdt, is at the center of a multi-organization partnership to deploy social networks and micro-blogging platforms to activate more climate action supporters. These millennial multi-tasking networks will only become more useful and prevalent as smart phones and other mobile devices become the primary technology people use to keep in touch and reach the world.
The result of Rhys’ work is impressive. This week he and his colleagues from 1Sky, NRDC, NWF, Sierra Club and a number of other USCAN members launched the Clean Air Act fan page on Facebook that attracted almost 2,000 fans the first three days and generated significant media attention. Pass the word about the page and promote your organization’s actions on the Wall.
Last month USCAN began connecting with climate action activists on Twitter to coordinate and keep track of domestic grassroots activism, UN negotiations, Copenhagen Accord commitments, and the best of what USCAN members have to offer. Start following USCAN’s Twitter feed today.
We’ve also launched a LinkedIn Group that is populated with the current climate job postings with WRI, ICLEI, Greenpeace and others. We encourage you to take advantage of this resource to connect with climate professionals in your community and around the country.
Talk to you next week, Keith Schneider